High quality long-form content has been proven to be a vital ingredient in attracting more customers and business to a company. Poorly produced content will lead to a poor rate of sales and business opportunity. Many companies use affiliates to produce content for websites, blogs and tutorial pieces. Long-form content is broadly classified as anything with a word count of over 1200. This has recently been expanded to include video content too.
Content should be written on topics which are commonly known and commonly searched for. They shouldn’t go out of fashion within the first month, rather they should still be relevant after a couple of years. A minor tweak here and there, sure, but the vast majority of the piece shouldn’t need changing.
Longer vs shorter form content
Quite simply, longer content performs well in search engines compared to shorter articles so there is a need for longer content articles rather than shorter ones. Search Engine Optimised (SEO) keywords are more likely to be naturally included in longer articles compared to shorter ones. Your business ranking more highly through searches will direct people to you and can lead to increased sales.
It has been found in numerous research papers that anything under 1000 words is less likely to lead to sales. Also, having more content available shows that you are an expert in your field and leads to more in depth discussions and meetings. “In addition to this, long-form content allows you to educate potential business links about your brand before they personally contact you. This helps to develop trust as there won’t be any hidden surprises,” says Journalist, Jasmine Stephenson.
Long-form content formats
There are many styles of long-form content which are used in different businesses. It is important to use the styles that suit your business, but be prepared to adapt for a particular market.
Blog articles are a good example of long-form content and can be used at different times of the year. An end of year review, a new launch or a monthly update are all effective uses of a blog article. Sometimes a shorter example may be needed such as a brochure to give a more visual display of your company or brand. High content alongside images can be an effective tool. White paper content offers more scope for in depth analysis or solutions to a problem. Companies also offer downloadable guides in the form of e-books. These provide information on problem solving or step by step tutorials to be followed by the client. This is by no means an exhaustive list and other formats are available.
It takes time
This is important to remember when discussing your requirements for long-form content. To get the best content you need to allow time for it to be researched, drafted, edited (more than once) and then published. Even the best content writers in the world need time to produce the best work. Agreeing on time scales before writing commences keeps everyone involved focused on the end goal.
Countless companies have had great success with their pieces of content for a variety of reasons. Sadly, there isn’t a one size fits all here, but lessons can be learned from others. Some companies find success in making their content widely available to all and do not charge a fee for it. Others have a creative approach in terms of layout and design which attracts new businesses.
Some companies aim to create an experience from their content which makes the reader feel like they are a part of the company already. Incorporating video content alongside the written word is a tactic used by some companies where they offer a visual stimulus to show what their words are saying. All important to consider when dealing with affiliates and discussing your needs. It is not necessary to use all of these success ideas in every piece of content but having some variety will help appeal to a wider range of people.
How can I make sure my affiliates produce what I need?
Quite a simple answer really; help them as much as you can. This doesn’t mean write it for them or have hourly catch ups to review progress, it means give them the information to succeed. A title or an idea is never going to be enough to go on for your affiliates.
Provide them with some headlines from research into effective long-form content to give them an idea of what is expected of them. Alongside this, direct them to some articles that are written in the style you want them to create. These don’t need to be linked to your business or brand, it is ‘how’ they are written not ‘what’ is written that is key.
Content to include
Are there particular images or graphics that you require in the piece of content? This could be the company logo, a snapshot of another article or even an image of a product. These will not only add to the overall aesthetics of the articles or blog but also give your affiliate something to focus on rather than the written word. Writer’s block can be a nightmare so having something visual is important.
This sounds obvious but is often overlooked. You know your brand better than anyone, so this is your chance to set down exactly what you want to be included and by when. Word count, content format and writing style are all down to you before the affiliate begins writing for you. Timescales for competition must also be agreed upon before work commences. Yes, things happen sometimes that cannot be avoided but having deadlines keeps the project on track.
“A deadline for completion can be broken down into smaller milestones to be achieved along the way,” says Liam Michaels, a marketing writer.
Do you want a first draft produced by a certain day? Is a completed chapter each week acceptable? All these details lead to a much smoother and more successful piece of content being produced.
In summary, provide your affiliates with as much background as you can in terms of long-form content strengths and your vision for the content they produce. Use a variety of styles to appeal to as many people as possible and be prepared to wait for high quality content for your business.